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Talk about loud!

In order to not pollute the "The Death of High Fidelity" thread ( I figured I would start a new one here.  The CD I will start with is  the 2007 release of SiNo by Cafe Tacuba.

The only thing I can say is "Damn!". The first song on the CD reports (via iTunes) a respectable  -5.4dB. The next song shoots up to -13.6db and the CD goes up and down throughout each song. The last song on the CD, "Gracias" is listed at -16.4dB!!! The clipping and buzzing starts early on the CD and is present throughout. What a disappointment.

I really enjoy the style of this band (even though I don't speak Spanish). The closest thing I can say about their style is Jane's Addiction meets The Cure featuring Fionna Apple. It's different from everything else I listen to. It's a real shame that the music was destroyed in such a fashion.

This CD would have gotten heavy rotation in my playlist if I wasn't continually distracted by the obvious and blatant inferior quality of the final release. The songs are great, but I do not enjoy listening to them.

[edited spelling mistakes]

Talk about loud!

Reply #1
My last buy was Nine Inch Nails Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D, which, as you can likely guess, is a remix album. It's really all over the place.

The entire album weighs in at -9.10dB. The most gentle track is a remix of "Me, I'm Not" at -2.05dB. The loudest is a fan remix of "My Violent Heart" at a pretty damn loud -10.75dB. That's an unweighted -9.5dB RMS. Horrendous. Much of the waveform has little in common with a waveform that could be identifiable as being music.

Thankfully, there's no full scale clipping, but all that really means to me is that the input to the limiter wasn't clipped. Big deal.

Talk about loud!

Reply #2
My last unlucky buy is the 25th anniversary edition of Thriller by Michael Jackson. I owned the 1982 original CD, wich unfortunately got irreparably scratched. Eeew, that is LOUD! My RG values say 1.3 average peak :|

Using in-ear monitors on my DAP, I get an headache when those tunes bump in my shuffle playlist.

Talk about loud!

Reply #3
I have several to add:

Leona Lewis - Spirit (2007) [UK Version]

fb2k replaygains it at -9.69 album, with track gains ranging from -7.65 to -11.19.  Album peak is 1.100616 and track peaks from 0.87 to 1.100616

EDIT: I would venture to guess that the US release version available in a few days will have the same, or very similar, "quality".

Janet Jackson - Discipline (2008) [US Release]

fb2k replaygains it at -8.90 album and album peak at 1.33520.  Track gains and peaks go all over the place, from +3.84 track gain and 0.416694 track peak on track 19, to -10.55 track gain and 1.166756 track peak on track 17.

Talk about loud!

Reply #4
I was looking through CDs at Best Buy the other day, which is a rare experience for me because I rarely buy CDs or buy them online, and I noticed The Apples in Stereo had a new EP out. I was kind of surprised I hadn't heard of it, but apparently it was released that day. Of course I bought it.

The mastering on it is pretty bad. It's rife with clipping like all their albums after the first. ReplayGain gives it exactly -11 dB. During the louder tracks (esp. the end of The Golden Flower) the clipping gets pretty bad, to Californication levels almost. It sounds like that track in particular may have gone through several rounds of compression and/or clipping; this is especially plausible because the liner notes say that many tracks were mastered from vinyl releases or CD-R. I understand it's a collection of "rarities", but would it have killed them to go back to the original masters? They still have the master tapes, or at least, they should.

I have a higher tolerance to clipping than some people, but even for me the clipping on some tracks is too much.


All that said, I've heard worse. But I've also heard much better.

Talk about loud!

Reply #5
I actually managed to get something good for a change. I bougth the new Erykah Badu CD, New Amerykah Part One (4th World War).

Not only do I love her voice and style, but the overall album gain was -6.9dB. I think this is the best purchase I have made in a while. I think the whole CD is great. Listening through my HD280 Pros actaully makes my ears vibrate. People come by my desk and I'm sitting there grinning like an idiot.

If you are a fan of Miss Badu or R&B in general I highly recommend this CD.


I also managed to snag a copy of Stone Sour's Come What(ever) May Special Edition. The store tagged it wrong @ $11.99 and I got them to honor the price wothout a fight (even though I knew it was a mistake).

The album gain come out to -9.77dB, which for a metal album is prety good these days. Again, I really like this CD. I gets very heavy rotation in my day to day listening. I even like the Chris Isaak cover.

Talk about loud!

Reply #6
Another one to add:

Ashlee Simpson - Bittersweet World.

Album Gain of -10.12 with Album Peak of 1.285910

Talk about loud!

Reply #7
With all these CD's that have loud masterings and clipping, can this actually damage equipment? Both stereo components and speakers?

I've always known that clipping will damage your equipment, but I'm not sure if the clipping has to occur at the amplifier or if even clipping at the source can damage your equipment.

I'm actually afraid to take advantage of my stereo system's power when playing music these days.

Talk about loud!

Reply #8
I suspect that clipping-related damage tends to refer mostly to frying your tweeters (or blowing their protective fuse), and refers to potentially over-loud high frequency components caused by hard clipping in your own signal chain.

For example, square waves (maximally clipped sinusoids) have odd harmonics of the fundamental frequency (n=1,3,5,7,9...) at amplitudes 1/n relative to the fundamental, so could be much louder than that which normal music throws at the tweeter. Perhaps more importantly, the total rms power of the sum of higher harmonics that passes through the high-pass and into the tweeter driver (e.g. 1/3 + 1/5 + 1/7 + 1/9 + ...) could be comparable to the power of the fundamental that is sent to the midrange driver, when most tweeters are designed for the modest rms powers that are typical of normal music's frequency content.

If the clipping is on the CD, this has to limit the max frequency to 22.05 kHz (thanks to the reconstruction filter in the DAC) so this curtails the sum of frequency components that add up to the power, but it could still be fairly large.

However, in practice on a real over-loud music CD the distortion isn't likely to generate harmonics too far outside the normal distributions in real music or it won't sound very real (i.e. we're not approaching real square waves, or only for very brief durations). So, because it's so damn loud, you'll have turned down the volume to a comfortable listening level, where, with a bit of luck, it won't cause damage with much more likelihood than properly mastered tracks could cause damage.... and if it's too distorted, who'd want to turn it up loud anyway!
Dynamic – the artist formerly known as DickD

Talk about loud!

Reply #9
If music kills your speakers you should maybe get a new Hi Fi system which protects the speakers. E.g a limiter.

Talk about loud!

Reply #10
The peak values of lossless(!) files extracted from a CD cannot go above 1. When you have peak values above 1, you've been scanning lossy files.

While the gain values don't differ much between lossless and lossy audio, the peak values heavily depend on the encoder and settings used, so the peak values of lossy files are not very meaningful when it comes to determining a record's loudness.
Nothing is impossible if you don't need to do it yourself.

Talk about loud!

Reply #11
Back on topic - the new Weezer album is surprisingly dynamic for a modern pop/rock record. It gets a -8 point something from ReplayGain, but it nevertheless sounds very good, especially compared to their last album.

The Pitchfork Media review even made note of the mastering:
Jacknife Lee (who co-produced the album along with Make Believe overseer Rick Rubin) lets the chorus explode from the mix in a way that little on the radio does anymore. It demands to be sung by millions of uncomprehending bar-goers.

Nice to know some non-Hydrogenaudio'ers still care about (and notice) sound quality.

Talk about loud!

Reply #12
I bought Karmina - backwards into beauty
And it was actually really good!
They remind me of Tori Amos and the Dixie Chicks, and I love their song "The Kiss" , amazing video!

Talk about loud!

Reply #13
I havent bought anything recently but I am looking forward to the new coldplay

Talk about loud!

Reply #14
Heard The Offspring's new CD today, "Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace", I tought it sounded somewhat clipped so I put it in my audio editor and pressed the "Detect clipping" button:
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I cannot listen to this CD for a long time, it's just hard on the ears.

Talk about loud!

Reply #15
Just got Katy Perry's new album "One of the Boys" (2008), US Release.

album gain:  -10.77 dB

album peak:  1.202443

Check out Audacity's graph of her hit single "I Kissed A Girl" on this album!   

Talk about loud!

Reply #16
I love my musicals and Broadway stuff but "Wicked" and "Spamalot" are awfully loud for something that certainly should be dynamic.

I also wasn't impressed with Pirates of the Caribbean mastering on the first album....Disney has the money to do better! >.<
LAME 3.98 -V3

Talk about loud!

Reply #17
I also wasn't impressed with Pirates of the Caribbean mastering on the first album

Well there's probably understatement of the year around here! 

I completely agree; I could not believe the amount of clipping present in the PotC soundtrack CD.  This is easily the poorest mastering work I have ever seen.  Such quality, especially when connected to such a high-quality film, was very disappointing. 

Does anyone know if the audio on the DVD or blu-ray releases clips similarly?  I do have it on blu-ray but haven't listened closely enough to notice and been too lazy to record audio from my ps3 to my computer to check the actual signal levels.  I suspect it's much better than the audio CD though; it sounds fantastic, even at low levels.

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